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Geochemical Journal
Geochemical Journal An open access journal for geochemistry
Published for geochemistry community from Geochemical Society of Japan.
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Helium in old porcelain: The historical variation of the He isotopic composition in air

Geochemical Journal, Vol. 44, No. 3, P. e5-e9, 2010


It is still debated whether there is a variation of the atmospheric 3He/4He ratio, due to the anthropogenic release of radiogenic 4He contained in fossil fuels, in modern era. In this study, we measured the He isotopic ratios in old Chinese and Japanese porcelains assuming that the old atmosphere might have been preserved in vesicles. The trapped noble gases are elementally but not isotopically fractionated. The 3He/4He ratios in some old Chinese porcelain are significantly higher than the present air value, indicating that recent human industrial activity might have affected the helium isotopic ratio of the atmosphere. Our result indicates that the rate of change in the atmospheric 3He/4He ratio was -0.034 ± 0.018 %/year (2σ) in the last 200 years. Results show that porcelain can be used as a time capsule of the paleoatmosphere during historical age.


helium isotopes, atmosphere, porcelain, anthropogenic fluxes, Industrial Revolution

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